If you ain’t know, the funk truly resides in Kalisway’s heart and it’s a big one at that. The Toronto native has been basking in a bevy of good news since her newly released Special K EP earned rave reviews. “[Growing up] I listened to Snoop Dogg and [Dr. Dre], Parliament-Funkadelic, Cameo, Earth, Wind & Fire, and The Isley Brothers when it came to learning about funk,” the artist-songwriter shares via email. After getting her start as a producer, Kalisway matured into her confidence, partly through the creation of Cream, and also thanks to the power of Black women and their voices in her life.

“Every day my sister amazes me and continues to inspire myself and other Black artists and illustrators to impact others the way she continues to,” Kalisway confesses. “As someone who was told that dreams can only come true if you work for them, these artists inspired me because they bet on themselves.”

Kalisway’s infectious and funky grooves serve as a bridge between the past as contemporary talents like Dām-Funk and Anderson .Paak, making her an impressive addition to your growing list of must-hear artists. Joining her on The Playlist are fellow funkateers, chosen for the vibes and the influence they have made in music, shared for you and others to appreciate and enjoy.

“Black people have always made an impact in music,” Kali shares. “It’s just that [now] the world is finally opening their eyes and the game is appreciating them not just as artists, but as changemakers. There will be tons of exceptional moments that women in the game like myself will do this year that will impact the future. Just watch!”

…And listen, as this co-curated edition of The Playlist features powerfully funky and soulful sounds by artists we all know and love (plus a few new voices to boot).

1. Solange — “Almeda”

Starting off right, Kalisway drops in an oldie and a goodie from Solange. “I feel that I’m always in a zone, not a mood,” she says about her inaugural pick for The Playlist. “Whenever I press play to this track, I instantly picture all of the feelings and visuals that Solange intentionally done and it pushes me to further and extend my own imagination and inventiveness when it comes to creation.”

2. Ric Wilson — “WOO WOO WOO”

Everyone’s favorite Chicago-based music artist, organizer, and activist — Ric Wilson — is back with more of that goodness audiences have missed. “WOO WOO WOO” gives funk and house vibes as this video, which was directed by A Solo Vision, gives Wilson and his friends a safe space to get down and showcase that legendary Chi-Town footwork. If you’re unfamiliar with Disco Ric and his one-of-a-kind style, this video is layered with everything needed to add to your rotation.

3. Cameo — “Candy”

An honest to goodness classic cut to play now that weather is warming up, “Candy” is a funky number by Cameo that no one with a melanated soul can ignore. “I tend to think of music as a taste, with colors and a feeling added to it,” Kalisway says. “A lot of my song titles represent food, which probably stems from me listening to this song since I was little. It is a great representation of the excitement and energy that I carry within me for music.”

4. Cimafunk — “Cun Cún Prá”

Already critically praised for uniquely fusing Afro-Cuban riddims with straight-up classic funk, having earned his stankier-than-thou cred, Cimafunk‘s new five-song EP launched him into rarefied air and with “Cun Cun Prá,” this is a song that presents an awesome reason to dance.

5. Bernard Wright — “Haboglabotribin’”

The inimitable Bernard Wright has always been left of center in a majorly cool way. His work impacted Kalisway in a uniquely cool way. “I’m [personally] full of surprises and high expression,” she says. “Everything I do, I love to add a sparkling touch [and] this song by Bernard Wright is full of that ear candy and color that you cannot ignore.” And by not ignoring this song, you listeners can tell all your friends about this cut that’s been sampled by everyone from Snoop Dogg to Xscape to 2Pac.

6. Deekapz — “Vibes”

Do you like Bailé in your funk? I do and Deekapz’s “Vibes” has been making a name for the Brazilian production duo (Paulo and Matheus) since dropping last March. Que lindo this song is for those who love to have good vibes inside their favelas. A Soulection-cosigned act, Deekapz gives rooftop energy right for those who want to play while enjoying their Brigadeiro Ice Cream.

7. Herbie Hancock — “Chameleon”

Kalisway’s second-to-last musical offering for The Playlist has been an example of how funk continues to permeate the culture and will never expire. “To me, my music that I enjoy is a feeling,” she shares. “Tell me how funk, jazz, and soul can be combined into one track? All you have to do is play Herbie [Hancock] to get the answer. This song doesn’t need any words because the grooves fill the picture.” And by picture, this means playing Herbie mad loud with friends and family at the park so all passersby can be hit with those good, sunshine-y vibes.

8. Lynda Dawn — “Move”

There is something about what Lynda Dawn’s voice does over this Fifth of Heaven sample that makes me happy about summer. First appearing on Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Records annual offering, Dawn showcases sunshine with her vocals and leaves two-steppers in awe of how many times this song makes bodies move on the dance floor.

9. Snoop Dogg — “Ain’t No Fun”

A deep-rooted classic from Tha Doggfather’s first album, Doggystyle, this song has a few impressive samples that all provide a funky DNA. Isaac Hayes’ “A Few More Kisses to Go,” and Lyn Collins’ “Think” (About It) infuse themselves to this cut that—despite not being politically correct for these trying times—is one that will still induce a sway and a bop from time to time. “Personally, this track is one of my favourite songs. I love to have fun and joke around, cruise [in the whip], and just chill,” she confesses. “Everybody gotta have fun, that’s just the type of person I am, so I’d say play this however you can, or it ain’t no fun!”

10. SassyBlack — “Wakanda Bounce”

As one half of THEEsatisfaction, Catherine Harris-White’s creativity spouted into an array of albums, distinct and timely in their own ways. To close out this week’s edition of The Playlist, get off the sideline and celebrate this cosmic-tinged bop called “Wakanda Bounce”. A communal number that closes out her 2018 offering, Wakanda Funk Lounge, let SassyBlack’s vocals sink you into those familiar lands and get you out of your seat and in motion.

Catch new editions of ESSENCE’s The Playlist on Fridays and follow us @ESSENCE and @KevitoClark on socials to stay in tune with us online.

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